Hybrid taxis, a ban on gas-powered lawn mowers and highway tolls to cut emissions are part of Toronto's massive proposal to fight climate change.

Toronto's Climate Change and Clean Air Action Plan and Sustainable Energy Plan was issued Thursday and proposes a return to 1990 levels for greenhouse gas emissions.

The initial 6 per cent reduction is estimated to take five years with a 30 per cent reduction by 2020 and an 80 per cent reduction by 2050.

"This is a pivotal time for Torontonians. The City of Toronto is committing to concrete, aggressive actions in these documents, actions that will begin in 2007 and go forward for years to come," Mayor David Miller said in a statement.

"By approving this report, we are acting on climate change and working to turn back the clock."

The potential ban on two-stroke engines, such as leaf blowers, could take effect by 2010 and the city would stop using its' own polluting equipment by 2009.

"We all need to rise to the challenge of climate change, and the time to do that is now. City staff, businesses, energy providers and residents need to work together to ensure Toronto's climate change goals are met," Councillor Paula Fletcher, Chair of the Parks and Environment Committee, said.

"The City of Toronto is taking the first step by creating and approving the plan, but all parties need to take action to ensure we succeed."

While Miller campaigned on a greener Toronto platform, some of the proposed initiatives could be contentious for his constituents.

The mayor said he has yet to commit to tolls, which would likely affect the 400 series highways, Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway.

First, the province, Toronto-area municipalities and the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority will examine the idea as a way to invest in public transportation.

Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone says the tolls are just one proposed part of a much larger plan that will serve to benefit drivers in the long run.

"If you have to do that then you have to plow every cent that you collect that way into public transit because the idea is you should be able to show to people that yes, you will be paying a little bit more here but by building public transit, there will be more room on the road for you if you really need to use a car," Pantalone told CTV News.

The city will spend $1 million this year on tree planting and green roof implementation.

Toronto will then take $84 million from a Toronto Hydro reserve fund to cover the cost of implementing the recommendations in 2008.

Franz Hartmann of the Toronto Environmental Alliance says the city needs to go one step further and ensure green jobs are staying in Toronto.

"The mayor for example talked about how he would like to revamp all of the old buildings that are across the city. Well, that requires material and we should be building that material in Toronto," Hartmann said.

The public will be able to make presentations on the plan at the environment committee's meeting on Monday at 4p.m.

The plan will go to the executive committee on June 25 and to the full city council at its July 16-17 session.

Recommendations in the plan include:

  • A possible ban of gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers by 2010
  • A requirement that 10 per cent of commercial and institutional roofs be eco-friendly by 2020
  • A proposed requirement that 25 per cent of energy needed for the city's operations will come from renewable energy
  • A proposed expansion of bike lanes and trails to 1,000 kilometres, up from 300 kilometres, by 2012
  • A proposal that all taxis and limousines switch to low-emission or hybrid technology by 2015